While many people usually discover that brushing their teeth is an easy habit to develop and maintain, few people take to regularly flossing their teeth. Compared to flossing, brushing your teeth can seem ridiculously easy–you put some toothpaste on a toothbrush and carefully but thoroughly brush it over all the surfaces of your teeth. With flossing, you have to take out an appropriate length of floss, wrap it around your fingers, gently move it down between two teeth and along the gum line, then lift it out and adjust it to a clean spot before proceeding to floss between the next two teeth and so on through the entire mouth. Dental flossers and toothpicks may promise to simplify the process a bit, but it can still take some time to work through all the teeth in the mouth. While acknowledging that flossing your teeth properly definitely takes time, there is a good reason why taking on this process as a daily habit is actually very, very important to your oral health.
How Flossing Helps Your Teeth
Research studies that have been published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene disclose the fact that combined with brushing, flossing can help to reduce the incidence of gingivitis. In fact, if you fail to floss your teeth on a regular basis, you are at risk of developing both gingivitis and cavities between your teeth. This is because there is more than one thousand bacteria present in dental plaque, and brushing is simply not sufficient to remove all dental plaque from your teeth. Even the finest toothbrush bristles are too large to fit in between the teeth and down around the gumline, which means that if these areas are not cleaned by flossing, they not only trap small, leftover food particles but they are also the perfect breeding ground for bacteria-filled plaque. When these bacteria remain in contact with your gums, they can cause your gums to become red and inflamed–bleeding easily. This breeds even more bacteria and leads to gingivitis. When these bacteria remain on your teeth (especially between your teeth, where toothbrush bristles cannot go) they destroy the enamel that covers your teeth and create cavities.
Where gingivitis grows unchecked and remains untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease. Not only does this adversely affect your oral health and hygiene, it can also affect your overall physical health, as the bacteria from periodontal disease can easily enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs and systems in your body. In fact, periodontal disease has been linked to diabetes. Similarly, when cavities are allowed to form, they not only affect the health and comfort of the mouth, but again can affect the health and comfort of other body organs and systems. Fortunately, all these problems can be prevented, or at the very least greatly mitigated, through good oral hygiene habits–which includes daily brushing and flossing and twice annual dental examinations and professional cleanings.
When and How to Floss
The two main flossing tool options available to you are traditional dental floss and flossing wands. The option you select largely depends upon what is most comfortable for you. If you have a difficult time using traditional dental floss and moving it around your mouth, then it may be necessary to use a flossing wand to ensure your teeth are flossed properly and regularly. Whether you use traditional dental floss or you prefer to use a flossing wand, you should ensure that you are using waxed floss. Not only will waxed floss move more easily between the teeth, it isn’t as likely to shred and leave small pieces between the teeth.
You should floss your teeth at least once every day in order to ensure plaque is regularly removed before it can harden into tartar. The best time to floss your teeth is after brushing and just before bed, when bacteria removal is most helpful. Gently slide the floss between the teeth and along the gum line, avoiding the sharp, jerking motions that can irritate your gums. If you haven’t been flossing regularly, you may experience some gum bleeding initially. Keep flossing gently and this should stop after a few days or a week. If it doesn’t stop after a short time you should contact your dentist, Dr. Best, to ensure that you are flossing correctly and there isn’t an oral health issue that is causing this bleeding.
For more information about how to properly floss your teeth, contact your dentist, Dr. Best, today!